South Pender Island lies along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, abutting the meandering nautical Border Pass which dips below the 49th along the US and Canada. East across Plumper Sound, even further south, is Saturna Island. Both have young-ish vineyards. Sea Star at Pender comes out of the gate with a select selection of light, aromatic, appealing whites at an extremely reasonable price point. Meanwhile Saturna Vineyard sits fallow for the second year in a row. Hence the strange goings on in the BC wine industry; whether to strive for the most common, most loved, most drunk varietals (i.e., as Saturna did, and more or less drain the gas tank doing so) or to simply embrace terroir and go for what’s likely to produce good plonk.
Kudos to Pender. The Siegerrebe is a Gewurtz cross hybrid, something I’ve never knowingly drunk before even though I’ve seen the Gray Monk; it was reminiscent of the first time I sipped Summerhill’s Ehrenfelser. In other words wonderfully different and immediately interesting. The label proclaims light acidity when in fact we found it heavy handed; it proclaims stone fruit but instead we found it strongly tropical and too ripe, like lychees in sugar syrup. There was a bloom of herbaceousness as well; think winter savoury, a sort of brighter, stronger more floral version of thyme. None of these comments are meant as negative. It’s a wonderful summer sipper, I carted a bottle nestled in cool packs on a two hour hike all the way to remote Taylor Point on Saturna, and we drank it with cheese, fruit, fresh homemade soda bread while watching eagles and orcas overhead and beyond. The low alcohol point is an extra feather in its cap.
Price: $21 at the Saturna Island General Store of all places.
Market Liquidity: Mazel Tov to Pender.